GENEVA — Tens of Baha'is' shops in the cities of Rafsanjan, Kerman, Sari and Hamadan have been sealed by government authorities in an effort to pressure Baha'is not to observe their religious holy days. These shops, mostly small businesses, offering services like household appliance repairs or the sales of automobile parts or clothing, were sealed in April and May when the owners closed their stores in observance of Baha'i holy days during those months.
20 May 2015 BRUSSELS—Together with many voices from within Iran—including Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer there—and from outside, five members of the European Parliament are calling for the immediate release of the seven imprisoned former Iranian Baha'i leaders saying, among other things, that such religious persecution is "unjust" and "unacceptable".
The five MEPs—Cornelia Ernst of Germany, Ana Gomes of Portugal, Tunne Kelam of Estonia, and Andrew Lewer and Julie Ward of the United Kingdom—made individual video statements as part of a global campaign designed to call attention this month to the seventh anniversary of the arrest and imprisonment of the seven Baha'is, collectively known as the Yaran—the friends.
"We join this appeal for their immediate, unconditional release," said Mr. Kelam, "because no country can claim that it has normal conditions for its citizens when a part of their citizens—some minority—is being persecuted systemically and so cruelly.".
NEW YORK — The Baha'i International Community has today launched a campaign to mark the seventh anniversary of the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of the seven former Baha'i leaders in Iran. The campaign will run until 21 May 2015. Events are being planned around the world by Baha'i communities and others to call attention to the plight of the seven, who were arrested in 2008. The plight of some 90 other Baha'is in Iran - as well as other prisoners of conscience there - will also be highlighted.
"What the events of the past year have demonstrated ever more clearly to the people of Iran and others from around the world who promote peace and concord is the stark contrast between the peaceful intentions and selfless service of the Baha'i community and the lamentable and inhuman acts of those who, under the influence of ignorant religious prejudice, continue to perpetrate injustices against you," wrote the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith, in a letter to Baha'is in Iran earlier this month.
4 May 2015 NEW YORK — Four Baha'is involved with the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), who had been unjustly imprisoned in Iran four years ago, have been released after completing their sentences, while concern remains for seven others who are still languishing in jail.
Mr. Ramin Zibaie, Mr. Farhad Sedghi, Ms. Noushin Khadem and Mr. Mahmoud Badavam were arrested on 21 May 2011 in a coordinated raid during which some 17 Baha'is from several cities across Iran were arrested because of their involvement in the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education—an informal initiative for providing university-level studies to Baha'i youth deprived of the right to higher education in the country. "The Baha'i International Community is pleased with the release of these prisoners who were forced to spend four years of their lives confined to their prison cells only for assisting young people to study," said Ms. Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations. "However, we are still very concerned about the seven others who remain in prison for charges related to the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education. It is also equally worrying that over 100 Baha'is continue to languish in Iranian jails."
GENEVA — In a clear rejection of Iran's claim that the human rights situation in that country has improved, the UN Human Rights Council today extended the mandate of its Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran.
"The Council's vote to renew the mandate of Ahmed Shaheed sends a strong signal to Iran that the world does not accept mere promises on human rights but rather expects concrete action," said Diane Ala'i, the representative of the Baha'i International community to the United Nations in Geneva.
GENEVA — A high UN official has praised the film "To Light a Candle", a documentary film on the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran, as an important effort in making better known the plight facing young Baha'is who are being deprived of access to higher education in Iran.
Speaking at a side event to the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, commended the film, stating that "it is important to use a medium as accessible as a movie documentary to convey the message about rights". Speaking to the audience after the screening, Dr. Shaheed commented: "I consider the Baha'is to be the most persecuted minority in Iran." "I am quite distressed by what appears to be a systematic policy of discrimination against Baha'is, including in the education sector," he further stated, adding that the policy is quite explicit, to the extent that Baha'is are expelled from university if their religious beliefs become known.
19 March 2015, GENEVA — Iran's limited and conditional acceptance of just two out of ten recommendations made by other governments about its ongoing persecution of Baha'is today suggests there will be no significant change in government policy in the near future – and a bleak outlook for human rights generally in Iran. "The sad reality is that Iran has largely refused to accept recommendations made by the international community that it end discrimination against Baha'is, offering instead to the Human Rights Council only token concessions on the issue," said Diane Ala'i, the representative of the Baha'i International Community in Geneva. She noted that Iran gave only partial acceptance to two recommendations that specifically mentioned Baha'is in its response to October's Universal Periodic Review at the Council, rejecting completely the other eight. "Other governments in October offered some very strong and significant recommendations about how Iran could end its systematic persecution of Baha'is, but Iran has walked away from them almost entirely, accepting only two in a limited and conditional manner," said Ms. Ala'i. "Based on this – and their past record of failure to live up to recommendations made at the 2010 UPR – we doubt there will be any improvement in the near future for Baha'is, who are persecuted in Iran solely for their religious beliefs," said Ms. Ala'i.
13 March 2015 GENEVA — Members of minority groups, including Baha'is, continue to face persecution and discrimination in Iran, despite promises by the government to the contrary, according to two high level UN officials.
In reports to the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed concern over the continuing high rate of executions in Iran, the jailing of journalists and human rights activists, the lack of freedom of expression, and discrimination against women.
The reports were issued on the eve of next week’s session on Iran’s response to the Council’s 2014 Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In October 2014, at the Council’s review of Iran’s human rights record, governments from around the world made 291 recommendations to the Iranian government regarding steps it could take to ameliorate its human rights violations. At a session scheduled for Thursday, 19 March, the Iranian government will indicate which of these recommendations it plans to accept.
March 12, 2015 on page official web-site of the Senate of the United States Senator Mark Kirk (www.kirk.senate.gov) published its statement demanding the release of wrongfully convicted leaders of the Baha'i community of Iran. Here is the text on the page of the publication of the Senator:
«Today marks the seventh anniversary of Baha’i leader Mahvash Sabet’s wrongful imprisonment in Iran solely because of her faith. Mahvash, a wife and mother of two, was the first of seven Baha’i leaders – known as the “Yaran-I-Iran” or Friends of Iran – to be arrested by the Iranian regime. The other six leaders were arrested on May 14, 2008, and in August 2010 all seven leaders were sentenced to 20-year prison terms on charges of “spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, propaganda against the regime and spreading corruption on earth.” They are serving the longest sentences given to any current prisoner of conscience in Iran.
Just as the United Nations' Universal Periodic Review of Iran's human rights record is taking place in Geneva and representatives of that country protest that they safeguard and uphold the human rights of all their citizens, the authorities in one region of Iran have launched a widespread, pre-planned, systematic attack against Baha'i business owners. This has brought further pain and hardship to countless families who are already suffering from the consequences of government policies aimed at nothing less than the economic strangulation of the Baha'i community in Iran.
On the morning of Saturday 25 October, the authorities descended on no fewer than 79 Baha'i-owned shops in Kerman, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft, summarily sealing the premises which were closed to allow the proprietors to observe a Baha'i Holy Day.